At Hart Primary school we strive to ensure that all children become successful, fluent readers by the end of key stage one and believe this is achievable through a combination of strong, high quality, discrete systematic phonics teaching combined with a whole language approach that promotes a ‘Reading for Pleasure’ culture. Being able to read is the most important skill children will learn during their early schooling and has far-reaching implications for lifelong learning and well-being.
The independent review of early reading conducted by Jim Rose confirmed that ‘high quality phonic work’ should be the prime means for teaching children how to read and spell words. The review also highlighted the importance of developing from the earliest stages children’s speaking and listening skills, ensuring that beginner readers are ready to get off to a good start in phonic work. Such work should be set within a broad and rich language curriculum. It is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background. This approach is in alignment with our belief that we first ‘learn to read’ and then ‘read to learn’ and is reflected in our Early Reading Policy.
Phonics (reading and spelling)
At Hart Primary School we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Nursery and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revisedprogression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Hart Primary School, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
At Hart Primary School we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.
Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader who drives the early reading programme in our school. This person is highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and they monitor and support our reading team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
Foundations for phonics in Nursery
We believe the importance of getting children off to a good start with reading cannot be overstated. The teaching of Early Reading starts from Nursery here at Hart.
- We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
- sharing high-quality stories and poems
- learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
- activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
- attention to high-quality language.
- We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
We understand that key features of a rich curriculum which are essential to Phase One and beyond are the range and depth of language experienced by the children. We exploit the power of story, rhyme (including ‘nursery rhyme of the week’ and Poetry Basket), drama and song to fire children’s imagination and interest, thus encouraging them to use language copiously. In foundation stage we have 6 texts which we focus on each half term. You can see these on our half termly knowledge organisers.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
- We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
- Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
- We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
- Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
- Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
- Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
- We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or 3 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.
- If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
- We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:
- are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
- use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids on pages 11–20 of ‘Application of phonics to reading’
- are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.
- Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
- prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
- comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.
- In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.
- In Year 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.
- The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.
- Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children.
- We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops.
Additional reading support for vulnerable children
- Children in Reception and Year 1 who are receiving additional phonics Keep-up sessions read their reading practice book to an adult daily.
Ensuring consistency and pace of progress
- Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
- Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.
- Lesson templates, Prompt cards and How to videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
- The Reading Leader and SLT use the Audit and Prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning.
Ensuring reading for pleasure
‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.’ (OECD 2002)
‘The will influences the skill and vice versa.’ (OECD 2010)
We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.
- We read to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Hart Primary School and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.
- Every classroom has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.
- In Nursery/Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
- Children from Nursery/Reception onwards have a home reading record. The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school and the adults will write in this on a regular basis to ensure communication between home and school.
- Children in foundation stage take home a ‘story sack’ to share at home which includes quality stories, non- fiction books and resources to support their development of the love of reading and fire their imagination and interest.
- As the children progress through the school, they are encouraged to write their own comments and keep a list of the books/authors that they have read.
- Visits to the local library will also be arranged for children.
- The school library is made available for classes to use at protected times. Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, author visits and workshops, national events etc).
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
- Assessment for learning is used:
- daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support
- weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
- Summative assessment is used:
- every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need.
- by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.
- Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.
Ongoing assessment for catch-up
- Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as through the half-termly Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised summative assessments.
At Hart Community Primary School, reading is loved and encouraged. In fact, we are a community of readers!
Why is reading for pleasure so important?
Research tells us that there reading for pleasure improves life chances (OESD, 2009), educational outcomes (Sullivan and Brown, 2013) and has a positive impact on mental wellbeing (The Reading Agency 2015).
We know that children’s reading fluency, the availability of quality material and suitable spaces as well as teacher and peer recommendations all have a significant impact on whether children choose to read for pleasure.
Power of Reading
We use the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s Power of Reading to support our teaching of reading and writing across school. Children engage with high quality texts, delving deep into the characters and themes of the texts they study. This reading then inspires fantastic written work and responses.
‘When I read a book it feels like new adventures come to my head.’
KS2 pupil 2019
Our schools use Accelerated reader to motivate, monitor, and manage independent reading practice throughout Key Stage 2
Accelerated Reader supports children with their reading through suggesting books at their personalised reading levels. Engaging quizzes and activities after reading their books allows children to develop their comprehension skills with authentic practice—encouraging growth and a LOVE of reading.
Every child has access to Bug Club to develop their reading fluency. Children can access a wide range of fiction and information texts in paper or online form. Children read to an adult in school and are encouraged to read at home as well. Our Reading Records help us to communicate between home and school.
Author of the Term
Children in Early Years to Year 4 have an ‘Author of the Term’. We enjoy reading the variety of texts these authors have created and learn about these in more detail. Our pupils tell us that that the Author of the Half Term helps them to find books and authors they love.
Children in Y5/6 have a Reading Passport. These passports encourage children to broaden their reading diet across a range of genres and styles as well as giving them opportunity to re-visit prior learning through a selection of carefully chosen non-fiction texts.
‘I can read for a long time without feeling bored and it makes me happy.’
KS2 pupil 2019
In Early Years we have amazing story sacks. These are taken home by the children and shared with parents/relatives/carers and encourage book talk and sharing books with families.
‘Frank The Sawfish is my favourite book.’
KS1 pupil 2019
Maisie and Annie are two special visitors who come to our schools with their owner Mrs. Yuill. These special visitors are our reading dogs. They listen to the children read to them and enjoy nothing more than story and a cuddle with the children! Reading to Masie and Annie help to develop reading confidence and expression.
‘I like reading because I like discovering new worlds.’
KS2 pupil 2019
Library Visits and Librarians
Children in KS1 and lower KS2 visit the Central Library in Hartlepool – strengthening our love of reading, accessing an even wider range of texts and teaching children how to use their local library and its range of services.
In addition, our schools have their own librarians. These children work very hard to ensure our libraries are a welcoming space. They organise books, change class books ready for their topics and help children to choose books to read for pleasure.
Author, Stephanie Matthews came into school to share her book ‘Frank The Sawfish’ with the children.
‘It gives me a different vision of the world.’
KS2 pupil 2019